MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus scored twice as Manchester City hammered Liverpool 5-0 in the Premier League at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday with the visitors forced to play the second half down to 10 men.
The result sends City, temporarily at least, to the top of the Premier League table with 10 points from four games, a point more than local rivals Manchester United who are at Stoke City later on Saturday.
Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane was shown a straight red card in the 37th minute for a high challenge on City’s keeper Ederson, who had raced out of the penalty area and had to be carried off on a stretcher following the clash.
City were already 1-0 up at that stage thanks to a Sergio Aguero goal and they soon made their numerical advantage count when Jesus headed in a De Bruyne cross.
The Brazilian tapped in his second in the 53rd minute after Aguero unselfishly played him in and Leroy Sane made it 4-0 in the 77th after combining well with Benjamin Mendy.
Sane completed the rout in injury time with a brilliant, curling left-foot shot from 25 metres into the far corner.
While the red card was the key moment in the game, Liverpool’s defensive frailties were again exposed as City found it far too easy to open up their back line.
City manager Pep Guardiola opted for a relatively defensive formation with Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy operating as the two wing-backs at the side of a three-man defence.
With Aguero and Jesus operating in tandem in attack, the formation relied heavily on Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne as the source of creative play for City and he delivered in style.
It was De Bruyne’s perfectly weighted pass that found Aguero’s well-timed run and the Argentine opened the scoring after skipping round Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet.
Liverpool were asking their own questions however with their speedy Egyptian winger Mohammed Salah beating Nicolas Otamendi twice but both times he was unable to deliver either a testing shot or a precise cross.
Mignolet had to save with his feet in the 35th minute to keep out a low shot from John Stones after the ball fell to the City defender inside the box following a corner.
Then came the crucial incident — Sane racing towards a long ball forward, Ederson rushing out of his area and stooping towards the ball and the Liverpool striker’s high foot striking the keeper in the head.
Referee Jonathan Moss deemed the challenge reckless and dangerous enough to merit a straight red card and the Brazilian received eight minutes of treatment before medical staff carried him off the field and straight to City’s medical facility for checks.
Jesus had a header from a curling De Bruyne cross from the left ruled out for offside but moments later the pair combined again in almost identical fashion to make it 2-0 at the break.
City had another effort ruled out when Aguero put the ball in the net early in the second half but the Argentine showed generosity when, after latching on to a Fernandinho through ball and facing only Mignolet, he slipped the ball to Jesus for the third.
It was one-way traffic throughout the second half. The fourth goal came when Sane used the overlapping Mendy to his left and got on the end of the low return pass. The German provided a moment of individual brilliance in the final seconds with his superb long-range strike.
Editing by Clare Fallon